Last weekend I had my second date with the Musical Vegan.
We had a good first date, but I had concerns about the fact
- he was moving away from London soon
- he was a vegan, and I’m a coeliac, so there’s very little we can both eat.
I had suggested he come round to mine to watch the Eurovision Song Contest.
He said he’d bring wine and I said I’d sort out snacks.
Once the challenge had been put forward, I got quite into trying to find something we could both eat.
I decided to make bruschetta with gluten-free bread, and homemade guacamole and salsa to go with our crisps.
I went to Tesco and bought the ingredients. It was hard to find bread that was vegan and gluten-free; gluten-free things fall apart more easily, so they put egg in the bread to keep it together. I did find some though, in the end.
I found some vegan chocolates as well.
As I was queuing up to pay, with my fresh basil, avocados, gluten-free bread and vegan chocolates, I thought this is the most middle class shop I’ve ever done.
I drove home and realised it was later than I thought, so I quickly made the guacamole and the topping for the bruschetta, before getting ready.
I decided to wear a denim skirt I had sewn ladybird buttons onto, with a blue strappy top that was quite low cut.
He arrived just as I was finishing my makeup.
In my doorway, he went in for a kiss on the cheek and I went in for a hug, so it was slightly awkward.
We sat on the sofa and chatted awkwardly, then I poured us each a glass of wine and put the TV on for Eurovision.
We both relaxed into it after a while. We chatted about my holiday in Romania and his recent job interviews.
We half-watched Eurovision and half-talked.
Unfortunately, I missed the one really exciting moment, when there was a stage invasion during the UK entry, because I was in the kitchen fannying about with the bruschetta.
The gluten-free/vegan food went down quite well.
We correctly guessed Israel would win Eurovision, but we liked Moldova best.
I really enjoyed his company all evening, but I realised I never really thought anything sexual about him.
I think about twice I thought oh yeah! Kissing is a thing that could happen. Each time, that thought took me by surprise as I just completely forgot about sex and kissing.
I think it was partly because the conversation was really good, but partly because, on reflection, maybe there wasn’t much chemistry.
After Eurovision, we watched the news. I think he was up for turning the news off, as there was some stressful stuff about North Korea which probably wasn’t conducive to a sexy mood, but I insisted on leaving it on because I wanted to see what they said about the Eurovision stage invasion which I’d missed.
I made us hot drinks as the news was on, and was vaguely conscious he’d probably miss his train soon.
After I turned the TV off, there were some silences.
He said he liked my ladybirds on my skirt and touched my leg very gingerly for a second.
He already said that earlier.
I realised he probably did it to establish some physical contact.
I said “thanks” and let the silence stretch. In the past, being too good a conversationalist has got in the way of being kissed.
“Sorry, I’m being really awkward!” He said.
“No, it’s OK!” I replied.
“Would it be OK if I kissed you?” He said.
“Yes it would!” I replied.
Normally I absolutely love kissing, but after a few minutes I thought OK let’s stop this now.
I took an elaborate sip of tea and tried to get the conversation going again, as I felt more like talking than kissing.
He wasn’t a bad kisser, but I just didn’t seem to be feeling it. Which was weird, as I’d been waiting for him to kiss me all night.
Or had I?
I commented on how long it had taken for him to kiss me, and he said “yeah, sorry, I just always want to make sure the other person definitely wants to do things.”
“Oh that’s great!” I said.
Then he seemed keen to restart the kissing.
After a bit more kissing, he said “I guess we could go somewhere more comfortable?”
“Yes, I guess we could.” I said.
I think it was at this moment that the first seeds of doubt were sown about whether I wanted to do this. I think I really enjoyed his company and I thought that meant I fancied him, but I was beginning to realise it actually didn’t.
We went into my bedroom and he sat down on my side of the bed.
I said “sorry, that’s actually my side.”
I think I normally wouldn’t mind.
He apologised and we switched.
We awkwardly kissed for a bit, then I said “sorry, is it OK if we just talk for a few minutes? That’s just what I feel like!”
We chatted about dating for a bit, and I felt more comfortable again.
On our first date, I thought I had picked up some aloofness, but after he had been so hesitant about kissing me, I realised that he was probably more nervous than aloof.
“So are you like… a dating veteran, or more like… newer to it?” I asked.
He said he was newer to it. He had been in a long term relationship and then not been ready for a while, but now he was.
I said I was more of a veteran.
He brought up the consent thing again, and apologised again for being awkward.
“Oh it’s fine, I’m loving the fact you’re not a massive sexual predator!”
After a while, we started kissing again.
I think most of the time, I thought that most of me wanted to do it, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.
He took his top off and for some reason I felt a bit annoyed.
The more heated the kissing got, the more he started making an “Mmmmmmmmmmmm” noise every so often, which I found a bit jarring.
His hands started roving around. At one point they reached quite a crucial area and it felt nice, and I felt relieved and thought see I DO want to do this.
I removed some clothing so we were more equally undressed. He started properly doing stuff to me.
We had the same problem as I had with Abrasive Uber, where too much attention was paid to the wrong place, but again, I weirdly felt like I couldn’t say. Even though there are loads of times I’ve dished out detailed feedback to boys and it’s gone really well.
I wasn’t doing anything to him at all, because I prefer not to multi-task – I like being able to concentrate 100% on what’s being done to me, and then concentrating 100% on what I’m doing. I don’t like when your hands keep tripping up over each other’s wrists.
I also thought it seemed a good idea to let him properly concentrate on what he was trying to do. However, after a while, he said something like “feel free to touch me”, so I thought I better had.
I thought In for a penny, in for a pound and decided to give him some oral.
I always feel more confident doing oral than hand-related work, and maybe something about oral felt a bit more distant, as my face would be miles down the bed.
As I moved down the bed, I thought penises are actually quite weird, if you think about it.
And as I got going, I thought sex is actually pretty disgusting, if you think about it.
Nevertheless, I sort of got into doing this, as I knew he was enjoying it.
After a while, he said “you’re gonna make me come!”
I stopped and sat up, and said “do you want to come yet?”
We then had the most British, over the top polite conversation about where he should come.
“I mean, do you want to come in my mouth… or more like my…” and then I gestured my general womb area.
“I don’t mind.” He said.
“I don’t mind either.” I said.
“I’m going to come now!” He said urgently.
“Right.” I said, putting it back in my mouth, just in time.
After a while, he then gave me some oral.
I nearly said “so you do eat some meat!” but then I wasn’t sure if it was funny or not.
I found myself thinking of the Scot and also the Whippersnapper, as well as a work colleague, unexpectedly. I felt bad for thinking about other people.
I didn’t complete the transaction. I think it was only once it was over that I properly knew that I hadn’t wanted to do it.
We went to sleep. Spooning is one of the things I miss most about relationships but I didn’t feel like it, so I lay in a position that didn’t lend itself to spooning.
In the morning, I made us tea and we chatted.
He said “I know you want to get on with your painting so I’ll go in a bit.”
I had told him the evening before, that I needed to paint all the woodwork in my living room.
“Ok.” I said.
“Or, I suppose we could do something else before I go?” He suggested.
This time, I don’t know what was wrong with me, because I knew I didn’t want to do it. He had said all that stuff about wanting to make sure the person wanted to do it, but somehow I still felt like I should.
I really don’t know why!
There is a phenomenon in Psychology called ‘the foot in the door’ technique, where people are more likely to agree to larger demands, if they’ve already agreed to a smaller, similar demand. They did a study where they found that people were more likely to say yes to having a big billboard in their garden, advertising something, if they’d previously agreed to have a small poster in their window, advertising the same thing.
So, maybe I partly thought I had to go along with it because I had done it the night before.
And then, in the end, he had trouble maintaining his erection, which he was really embarrassed about, even though I said it didn’t matter and had happened loads of times before.
When I’ve told a few female friends about what happened, I can’t explain why I felt I had to go along with the sex, even though I didn’t want to. I feel weird about it now.
I feel like, of all people, I should have been able to say No to him, because he said he really wants to make sure the other person wants to do it. I really don’t think he did anything wrong and I feel sorry for him now.
It’s made me realise that consent is a much bigger issue than just the words you say to each other, about whether to have sex.
There’s also the things that are smaller than the words you say – the non-verbal communication. I love Laci Green and the sex education videos she makes, and in this one, about consent, she says consent should be ‘clear and enthusiastic’. She gives examples of good questions to ask, to check consent, like “do you want to keep going?” or “you look uncomfortable, are you OK with this?”
I don’t think he did anything wrong, but if he’s really serious about making sure the other person wants to do it, he should know it’s not just about taking forever to make the first move. It’s also about checking the person seems happy and enthusiastic throughout. I think I was trying to convince myself I wanted to do it, so maybe I didn’t give much non-verbal communication reflecting how I really felt. However, I said things like “I guess we could” because I wasn’t sure.
As well as the things smaller than the words themselves, there’s the much bigger things. I don’t think he did anything wrong, and I do think it was my responsibility to say No, but I also think that if I’d grown up on a different planet, and spent 34 years getting different messages about sex from society and the media and the world, I might have found it easier to say No.
For example, the word ‘prick-tease’ exists, to describe a woman who ‘makes a man sexually excited but does not intend to have sex with him.’ There’s no equivalent word for a man who makes a women feel disappointed if he doesn’t want to have sex with her.
It feels like if a man doesn’t want to have sex with a woman, it’s probably her fault for doing something wrong to put him off.
I feel like it’s really hard to avoid being a prick-tease, because society also gives me the message that if I’m not sexually attractive enough I have no value. It’s like you have to be sexually exciting, but not too much.
I feel like my vocabulary for saying “actually, I’ve changed my mind” is so limited, because I have seen so few stories in films and books and television where women say that and it all goes OK. However, I feel like I’ve heard a hundred different versions of “it’s your fault, you led him on”.
However, I do think other women would have found it easier to say No. I have been reflecting on this a lot. There are loads of times I have said ‘Stop’ assertively, but this is not the first time I’ve had half-hearted sex because I was afraid to say No.
And actually, if I think about the last few relationships or sexual experiences I’ve had, maybe it’s not surprising.
- I was in a relationship with Matthew, for 3 years, and when I didn’t do what he wanted, he was scary. When I expressed what I wanted, sometimes he made me feel like it was not OK. He was often disappointed with me for not wanting sex. The last time we had sex, I hadn’t wanted to but felt I had to, or he would have subtly punished me
- then the very next person I dated was Daniel. When I didn’t want what he wanted, he was scary and ended up being quite abusive as well (peaking with the phonecall when he told me my body was disappointing). I did want to have sex with him but when I asked him to touch me more gently, because he was hurting me, he didn’t respond and I ended up slightly bleeding and very bruised by the sex
- then I was with the Whippersnapper, who was very gentle during sex and I probably wanted it even more than he did. However, when I expressed my needs outside of sex to him (ie for him to not cancel our dates) he made it clear this was not OK and left me. Then, he ended up sending me all those abusive texts calling me a cunt.
So, I feel like I’ve internalised the message ‘your needs are not OK, men are scary and you have to give them what they want.’
It’s no good. From now on, I owe it to myself, only to sleep with guys who I definitely want to. I am not going to sleep with any more men out of politeness or fear.
I love this video about consent as well. You CAN change your mind about having sex.
I think my first problem was that I didn’t know I didn’t want to do until afterwards. Well, I did know, but I wanted to want it, so I got confused. So, from now on, I need to know the signs.
Signs I want to do it:
- sex or kissing coming into my mind a bit earlier in the evening. Hoping we might have sex or kiss
- feeling excited at the prospect of kissing
- during the kiss, being glad we’re kissing and not wanting to stop
- wanting the kiss to progress further
- me doing things to take things to the next level, touching different parts of their body because I want to
- good feelings in my loins
- heart rate speeding up
- not having to talk myself into wanting it – just knowing I do
Signs I don’t want to do it
- forgetting sex is a thing earlier in the evening
- feeling indifferent or confused at the prospect of kissing
- wanting the kiss to end
- having to talk myself into wanting it
- the kiss progressing because I guess it has to
- touching their body because I remember that’s a thing I should probably be doing
- feeling annoyed with them or resentful
- feeling uncomfortable
Once I’ve realised I don’t want to do it, I need to say something. One of my friends said she started doing stuff with a guy once, and realised she wasn’t into it, and she said “actually, sorry, I don’t think I want to be doing this.” They stopped and went back to talking and it was fine.
Maybe I can practise different ways I might say “I’ve changed my mind.”
Next, I think I need to imagine myself doing it, so it’s more likely to happen in real life. We know from Psychology that visualising yourself doing something can make it more likely to happen. In one study, they got people who were ambivalent about voting to visualise themselves voting, and that made them more likely to vote in the next election.
I can visualise myself starting to do stuff with a guy, then saying “actually, I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to do this” and us stopping.
I deserve to only have sex with men I want to, and there are loads of guys out there who would respect it if I changed my mind.
Because, the thing is, sex is weird. It reminds me of an episode of Futurama, where they are horrified by the weird way some aliens reproduce. Then one of them says something like “you should just do what humans do and rub your urinary tracts together.”
Sometimes I think seriously, who came up with this?
You’d think from how obsessed with sex we all are (including me), that penises and vaginas would be aesthetically pleasing, they’d smell great and they’d taste great, but that’s often not the case. A lot of aspects of sex are, at best, an acquired taste.
Sometimes I step outside myself and think it’s so weird that we do this. When I think about some of the people I’m closest to, who I trust to be able to tell the most intimate things about myself, and who I care about the most, and at most, we briefly hug, occasionally.
It’s so weird that when I’m getting to know a guy I might like, I get him to put the most intimate part of his body into the most intimate part of mine.
Don’t get me wrong, I love sex. Sex is usually the screensaver for my brain. If haven’t got anything else to think about, my mind often drifts onto good sex I’ve recently had, or sex I hope to have. But I have to really want to do it, and really feel enthusiastic about the guy, to counterbalance how weird, gross and messy sex is.
From now on, I’m saving my urinary tract for guys I fancy.